Archive for May, 2013

God’s Special Reel of Film…

May 22nd, 2013 | 5 comments
What are we leaving on the cutting room floor?

What are we leaving on the cutting room floor?

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, I used everything you gave me.

~Erma Bombeck~

It’s a deep thought kind of day at the Buckley house.  Not thoughts of sadness, but rather reflection.  Today is Stephen’s birthday, so I am, of course thinking about him and his remarkable legacy.  But days of remembrance like this one also make me reflective about my own mark on the world.  What am I leaving behind?

I know it sounds strange, but I think about that quite a bit.  And that is something I am tremendously grateful for, each and every day. 

With that in mind, I wanted to share one of my favorite passages from my book. I woke up in the middle of the night in March of 2010, and this story was just “there.”  I don’t often talk about it, but much of my writing in that first year of grief was like that…just sort of showing up in my head, and me typing feverishly like I was some administrative assistant to a Higher Power.  I say that knowing that I will probably offend someone who thinks I am not religious enough to say that, or too religious to say that, but it is my truth. I am not going to deny that any longer, for fear that I will not quite fit into the pre-designed and accepted assumptions of religion or spirituality. I just felt connected to something larger than myself.  Perhaps it was because my heart was shattered open, and I had room to let the Divine inspire and guide me.  I don’t know, I’m no expert, but I do know that the 365 days following Stephen’s death were the most “awake” days of my life.  And I am forever changed.

This 3 a.m. story in particular is one I keep going back to, thinking about how it poured out of me.  And, don’t ask me why, but I feel I am not that far off in my description of heaven.  Hope you enjoy it my friends.

You see the light. You can’t believe it, the end has come and you cross over to the other side. Heaven. It is everything you imagined and more, and the faces of the people who greet you are welcoming and filled with love. You see the gates ahead, and begin to walk with your loved ones towards the entrance. The worries from your earthly life begin to fade, and although you will miss those left behind, you are happy to be here.

But, as you approach the entrance, you see the ropes are up, guiding you into a theatre instead of through the gates. A beautiful angel sits next to you and passes you some popcorn, buttered of course, because cholesterol is not an issue in heaven. You are confused. It makes no sense. This is not the time for movies. This is the time to get in through those gates and see the magnificence of God’s heaven.

Sensing your discomfort, the angel touches your hand, and tells you not to worry. The movie is part of your welcome. Everyone has to watch it before entering, and each movie is individual to your life. God has made yours special just for you.

The lights dim, and the movie begins. Scenes of your life flash before you; hugs from your mother, the giggles of your childhood, the first kiss, holding your child in those first moments after birth. Favorite songs, and food, and people flash across the screen, and with each glimpse, you remember the emotion of the moments. You watch with tear filled eyes the moments of your life where you were brought to your knees in pain. The moments where life crushed you into the ground, then stepped on you a second time to make sure you could never be put back together quite the same way again. You think to yourself that God saw it all, and you marvel at the fact that He was with you on the entire journey.

But then the movie takes a turn, and begins to show you scenes of your life that are not familiar. Scenes with so much love and happiness. You look at your own face on the screen and you don’t really recognize yourself. There are scenes that show you helping others, changing lives, living your purpose, and making a difference. You tug on the sleeve of the angel’s robe, and say there must be some mistake. This is not your movie, it is someone else’s.

And the angel responds, “No, this is your life. This is just God’s special reel of film. This is how God envisioned it, not how you lived it.”

So, you watch with wonder. And you see what life would have been if:

Instead of anger, you had decided to love, without condition or expectation.

 

Instead of judging, you had decided to be tolerant of everyone, no matter what the differences.

 

Instead of bitterness, you had decided to forgive.

 

Instead of fear, you decided to be fearless and trust that God really did have your back.

And because of those simple decisions, you  we able to live more of your life, instead of living through it.

You watch quietly, amazed at how different things could have been with some simple choices.

The curtain closes and the lights come back on, and you look to the angel and ask, “Can I go back and try this over? I know I can do better.”

The angel replies, “No, and God did not show you those scenes to fill your heart with regret. He showed you so you could understand. Life is and always will be about the love. God showed you this, because he intends to show pieces of this to those you left behind on earth as well. In their dreams, and through their hurt, your life will teach them. And maybe, if they are not afraid and open their hearts to see the message through the pain, they can choose differently because of what you and He taught them. And when it is their time, maybe God’s special reel for them will be a bit shorter.”

Today, I am thankful for my imagination and my decision to not leave any more film on the cutting room floor.

Wishing you a picture perfect day, 

Kelly

The Importance of Second Chances and Forgiveness

May 21st, 2013 | 3 comments

violets-susanDear Friend,

I wrote this post originally about a year ago, and felt the need to repost today.  You see, over the past few weeks, I have encountered some individuals who, for one reason or another, harbor anger.  Some are angry at people, some at events, some at the world, some are simply enraged with themselves.  And, each one, in one way or another, has affected me.  You see, May is an emotional month for me.  With Mother’s Day, and spring, and Stephen’s 27th birthday tomorrow, I can’t help but feel hypersensitive to the negative emotions that surround all of us in our everyday lives.  This month just makes me feel kind of raw. 

And I am thankful for that.  Each year, this month serves as a reminder for me.  Each May I am reminded of how terribly short and fleeting life is, and how the only thing that really matters on this journey is love. It’s all about how we love each other.  We all lose sight of that sometimes, I know I sure do.  But the month of May always brings me back to the hard lessons learned through loss.  I am grateful for May, because those lessons have made me a more compassionate human being.  Those lessons have allowed me to live with an open heart, and let so many people in to walk with me as we look for good in an imperfect world. 

So, I share with you, my thoughts on forgiveness.  Each one of us is so beautiful, and we let hurt or shame mask that beauty.  My prayer for you today is that you may find the path towards forgiveness, and release the anger that surrounds your life.  Because you are beautiful and the world deserves to see that light within you. 

With love,

Kelly

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

~Mark Twain~

When I was younger, I felt that I was very good at reading people and situations.  I trusted my first impressions.  And they stuck; meaning if you didn’t make a good first impression with me, it was hard for you to get a second chance….and that was that. But I missed the boat on this one;  first impressions don’t always give the complete picture, so if you meet someone who leaves you less than impressed, consider giving them a second chance. You might be pleasantly surprised.

We all know from personal experience how painful it can feel to be misunderstood or judged. Yet, it seems we all pay it forward.

And if you hurt me? I did not forgive easily. I held on to things, for a very, very long time.

I’m not proud to admit that.  But it’s the truth.  I can say it because, years later I realize just how closed my mind was to possibility.  How I limited myself by never giving life or the people in it a second chance. I really missed out on getting to know some really great people because of my unwillingness to give second chances or extend forgiveness for people being human.

The funny thing about that is….I always had an expectation that someone would extend a second chance to me.  I always thought I was deserving…..after all, I’m only human right?

I’ve been thinking about that lately.  I was reflecting on some things from the past and suddenly realized I had completely forgiven someone who had hurt me.  It’s funny, as people talk about this intentional living, but I was kind of surprised by the fact that all that darkness no longer existed in my heart.  In fact, I felt peace and compassion for that person, and also recognized my own position in how those circumstances came to pass in the first place.

It has freed me.  So, I wanted to share…maybe there is someone out there in the universe that will read my words and realize they are ready to let something go that has weighed down their lives for far too long.

Consider this if you need to forgive:

  • A second chance extended to another person is also a second chance for you.  Don’t limit your potential by closing your mind to the possibility of change. Your decision that someone is not worthy of forgiveness is in fact a statement saying you are not worthy of peace.
  • I heard once that every person we meet is in some way God in disguise.  If this is the case, what was the lesson this person was designed to teach you?  Did you learn it?  Have you grown as a person because of it?
  • What are the benefits to your life by holding back forgiveness?  Are you happier?  More peaceful?  Focused on the present moment?
  • Do you understand that forgiveness does not mean condoning anything?  It doesn’t change the wrong, you are simply making a choice to stop carrying it with you. It doesn’t mean that you are extending an opportunity for this person to hurt you again.  Forgiveness is about your personal decision to make your life better.
  • Extending your forgiveness will not be able to fix everything.  Maybe the person who hurt you will remain angry and hurtful.  This is not about changing that.  Release the burden from yourself and let them go.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. 

~Gandhi~                 

If you hope someone will forgive you:

  • You can’t push it.
  • You can’t make it happen.
  • You can’t demand it, beg for it, buy it, or expect it. You can try, but receiving forgiveness on your terms in not authentic.
  • You simply have to live your life as a person who is worthy of it.  Be the person who deserves forgiveness.  Learn from your mistakes, and live each day a little better than the last.
  • You can hope for it, you can pray each day for it.  But it may never come.  And that’s not about you or the work you’ve done to grow as a human being since you made the mistake.  That’s about the other person’s readiness and ability to deal with the hurt.
  • Part of hoping for forgiveness is extending it to yourself.  You will never be able to become a better version of yourself as long as you are replaying the mistakes of the past.  That is not to say you should not be accountable.  But at some point, it ‘s time to allow yourself to live the life you’ve been given.  This quote has always resonated with me:

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. 

~Siddhārtha Gautama~

At points in my life, I’ve been on both sides of the forgiveness coin; working on extending forgiveness, and hoping someone would forgive me for my mistakes.  And what I know for sure is this.  The time I spent away from love was time wasted.

When Stephen died, and my life was stripped bare, I had clarity.  And there was not one transgression that was worthy of my time.  I realized that this fragile, “go this way once” life was far too precious to spend all my time looking over my shoulder, to only find regrets or some weak justification for negative emotions. I feel like I’ve been given this job to do.  To tell people it is all about the love. To let people know they will be okay.

That scares me, as some days, I feel like someone is going to pop out and say, “Hey lady, I remember you.  You weren’t always love and sunshine….sometimes, you were a real b*t%h with a capital B.

And the truth is, they would be right.  Each morning, as part of my gratitude, I give thanks for the clarity that Stephen’s life gave me on how I should live out the rest of my days.

But, it was a hard way to learn the lesson.

Now, I know that some will read this and be quick to say, “Sure Kelly, but there are some things in life that are simply unforgivable. You don’t understand.”

My response is : Is that really true? Or is that the limitation you have set on your situation and how far you are willing to go? Look around for examples of people who have extended forgiveness in the most unforgivable of circumstances?  What allowed them to take the step?

Extend the same tolerance to others as you would want from them.  We’ve all screwed up at one point or another.  I know I have on many, many occasions; “cringe-worthy” moments that I am not proud of, and mistakes that I still pray on each night.

My life changed when I decided to extend the same patience and forgiveness to others as I had hoped people would give to me.  My life changed when Stephen taught me that there is no grievance more important than living a life filled with love.  It changed me and I believe it can change you….

Wishing you the peace in your life that only forgiveness can bring,

Kelly

The Grateful Mother…The Gift You Give To Your Children…

May 12th, 2013 | no comments

bigstock-mother-and-baby-at-beach-sunse-12114032

  • The mother, more than any other, affects the moral and spiritual part of the child’s character. She is their constant companion and teacher in formative years. The child is ever imitating and assimilating the mother’s nature. It is only in after life that men gaze backward and behold how a mother’s hand and heart of love molded their young lives and shaped their destiny.
  • ~E.W. Caswell~

For you fellow mothers out there, today is the day designed just for you by….who?

It’s interesting, as I have often believed that this is yet another holiday designed by the retail gods to get us to swarm like bees around their establishments, grabbing chocolates and bears and “I love you Mom” temporary tattoos.  But I was wrong.  The history of celebrating Mothers actually goes back to ancient Greece.  In more modern times in the United States, Anna Jarvis held her first celebration in 1908, as a memorial to her mother.

Worldwide, the day for celebrating dear old Mom varies, so even though I am writing about it in May, people on other parts of the world have already showered their Mom with love, presents and accolades, or will do so in the coming months.

Regardless of your timing for this celebration, I wanted to take a moment and talk about the grateful mother.  See, I know this day is all about you.  But the reality is, kids learn to be grateful from you by the example you set for them each day.  Soap and water can wash off the dirt from your afternoon in the park, but it cannot erase the belief system you instill in their growing minds with your words, your actions and your beliefs. Each day, you plant seeds of gratitude and compassion within the hearts of your children.

That said, I wanted to put down what I see as some of the wonderful things that make up a grateful mother.  I take these from my own mother, my sisters, my friends, and some amazing women I have met along this zig-zaggilicious road of life.

Here goes..

The Grateful Mom…

  • Designs Daily Touch Points for Gratitude: Maybe it is at breakfast.  Maybe it’s a note in with the lunch for school.  Maybe it is a conversation about the best part of the day at dinner.  Maybe it is the reverent thank you’s shared at bedtime.  A grateful Mom knows that a thankful life can only materialize by practicing gratitude daily.  Just like perfecting a sport or musical instrument, gratitude takes practice.  You have to make it a habit.  You have to make it part of your routine.  Living a life that illuminates the blessings in life comes by….looking for the blessings.  We often confuse happiness with being showered with the things or life we want.  And then we get what we want, and look around, and wonder why we are still not satisfied.  The truth is happiness and gratitude comes from being satisfied with the here and now, just as it is, stained with grape juice or sticky with gum.
  • Doesn’t Take Herself Too Seriously:  We’re all guilty of it.  We have so much on the list, so many tasks to complete that we need everyone to just fall into line and listen to instructions.  And truly, how would anything ever get done if we didn’t have a little of the drill sergeant tendencies in us?  But, a grateful mother realizes, that even if she can’t be this way seven days a week, she must show her children glimpses of her inner seven-year old.  And yes, you have it.  We all have it.  The inner little girl screaming to get out.  For some of us, we’ve maybe denied her existence for a while, thinking we need to be grown up and mature.  But she’s there.  She grinning from ear to ear, she’s got a splotch of chocolate sauce on the front of her dress, an imagination that can take you anywhere you want to go, and she speaks the truth about what is important.  NOW.  Yes, that inner seven-year old in you knows that to-do list will not make you happy in the only moment you really have, right now.  So, even if you haven’t unleashed her in a while, let her out to play.  The grateful Mom lives out loud, and knows that when your child reflects back one day, those inner seven-year old kind of days are going to stand out.
  • Understands She is the Keeper of the Dream:  When I reflect back on the life of my mother, one of the things she was so good at was making memories.  She had this ability to turn a day into an occasion, and could put special touches on things that just made them into magical times you would carry with you.  I bet you know what I mean.  She just went the extra mile to give me a happy childhood.  But more than making memories, a grateful mother is also the keeper of the dream.  She has the ability to make those special moments, but to also let those special moments fit into their child’s hope and dreams and not their own.  As mothers, we all have a personal vision of our child, and it usually involves them being healthy, happy, and accepting a Nobel Prize for curing cancer.  But a grateful Mom understands that it is not our dream to keep….we can nurture, and tend the garden of our children,  but our job is to let them find their own passions and dreams.  Our job is to tell our children that anything is in fact possible, and we believe in them and all their hopes for the future.
  • Teaches Her Kids to Focus on the Light, Even When it’s Dark:  Sometimes, life just plain ole sucks.  Bullies, skinned knees, ants at the picnic, loss at the championship game.  Sometimes, it’s more serious.  Death, divorce, job loss.  Life is not easy.  The Grateful Mom shows her child the honesty of life, that it is far from perfect and sometimes it hurts.  But, there is always goodness around you, no matter how dark the day.  The mother who lives a grateful life knows that thankfulness is not just for the banner days when everything sails along swimmingly. This Mom teaches her child to look for the little blessings that sit within the worst of days, and helps her child build resilience and the vision to see that no matter what, they are still loved and blessed and will see better tomorrows.
  • Realizes That Life is Short, Even When it Feels Like it’s Not.  I read once, “The Days are long, but the years are short.”  Not sure where, but boy, it sums up parenting quite nicely.  It’s not easy to raise tiny human beings.  They have their very own brains, they don’t always listen, they oftentimes don’t agree, they are sticky, they smell, the list goes on. The grateful mother realizes that even on the days that it seems like the 24 hour clock has been extended and bedtime will never arrive….that life goes by with the blink of an eye.  Ask any mother who has just sent her child off to college.  It seems like just yesterday they were changing diapers.  The grateful mother embraces and celebrates every less than picture perfect moment, knowing they only go this way once. And the effort is worth it, every single bit of it.

Your gratitude is like a seed planted in the heart of your child, and will grow as they do into something more beautiful than you can possibly imagine.  Keep planting the good stuff in the hearts of your family…

Happy Mother’s Day my friends,

Kelly